« Return to this article

Know the West

'It's clear out of control ...'


Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story, "Taking Liberties."

Bill Rose runs Rose Agriseeds on 2,100 acres in the Willamette Valley, about 20 miles south of Portland. He breeds specialty grasses for golf courses, and grasses that can be watered with sea water, shipping to customers as far away as Maryland. He voted for Measure 37 because he wanted to relax regulations enough to allow modest subdivisions on hilly, unfarmable rural land. Then one of his neighbors filed a Measure 37 claim, to convert a 40-acre berry farm into lots as small as one-seventh of an acre for 280 houses. The developer wanted the Clackamas County government to waive the agricultural zoning or pay him at least $3.6 million. The county had no choice but to approve the claim, in April. Now Rose is making a last-ditch attempt to persuade the county to limit the number of new septic tanks. He says Measure 37 claims "will destroy this valley — the best place to live and farm that I know of."

Bill Rose: "I thought that was the intent (of Measure 37) — farm ground should stay farm ground, and ground you can’t farm would go to houses, in selected places. But it didn’t turn out that way. … The sewage, cars and people (from the 280 new houses) would be very detrimental to the livability here. I have a 40-acre lake I made, and all the drainage will come into it. I am sure my lake will be ruined. … Our roads are (already) glutted, our schools are glutted, our policemen are overworked, firemen can’t keep up, and we’re going to have all these (new) people in here? It’s crazy. … The farm ground is up to $14,000 an acre now. It’s speculation (due to Measure 37) and the belief that you can subdivide. … The idea (for relaxing a few regulations) is good, but it wasn’t thought through, and now it’s clear out of control."